If you are breathing, you have at one time or another encountered individuals who get angry and fly off the handle at the slightest provocation – or maybe, seemingly, with no provocation at all. It may be a spouse, a child, a parent, a boss, a co-worker, or even a best friend. You may find yourself wanting to run away from them as quickly as possible and not return. We all want to feel safe, and this kind of unpredictable anger feels anything but safe.
But what can you do? How can you change the temperature of the dynamics? I want to adapt three principles recommended by Dr. Charles Fay that just might help you as you navigate those important, but difficult relationships.
First, recognize that when someone else’s anger gets to you, they now control you. A more productive way to separate yourself from their anger is to try to view their behavior through a lens of their possible hurt as opposed to simply perceiving them as obnoxious. This is called empathy.
Second, remember that the person who talks the most, gives up their power. Using fewer words will contribute to you remaining in control. This will also help you to listen more than speak, which often helps the person who is angry to calm significantly. We all desire to be heard and understood.
Third, rather than make statements, which can be perceived as defensive or even as challenges, ask questions. Questions stimulate thinking while statements often result in locked down positions.
Try these three simple steps with those angry people you encounter and see if it doesn’t lead to more peaceful resolutions and ultimately better relationships.